Friday, May 08, 2015

Helena, Arkansas -- you can't get there from here

I passed through Helena, Arkansas last month, and the odds are good that I won't visit there again in this lifetime, or any other. It doesn't seem to be on the way to anywhere I'm likely to ever be going, but I'm glad I've been there once. While in town on a beautiful Monday in April, I took time to pay a visit to one of Helena's most famous residents, the "Stonewall of the West," Patrick Cleburne. Of the seven Confederate generals to come from Helena, three are buried in the Confederate Cemetery section of Maple Hill Cemetery (Cleburne, Thomas C. Hindman, and James C. Tappan).

Patrick Cleburne
Confederate dead at Maple Hill Cemetery
The "Fagan Six," from the Battle of Helena

Friday, April 17, 2015

Elizabeth Brown Pryor, 1951-2015

[from The Washington Post April 16 at 7:53 PM -- family photo]

“She could speak eloquently of complex matters to people in German, French and Spanish,” Barbara J. Stephenson, a former U.S. ambassador to Panama and deputy chief of mission in London, said Wednesday in an interview. “She was so often the most talented person in the room.”

Her first book, “Clara Barton: Professional Angel,” came out in 1987, while she was with the Foreign Service in South Africa. Twenty years later, she published “Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters,” a revelatory study of the commander of the Confederate army during the Civil War.

Ms. Pryor was the first scholar to gain access to a newly discovered trove of Lee family documents that had been stored in a bank vault for decades.

In 1917, Lee’s daughter, Mary Custis Lee, sent two trunks of letters and other artifacts to the Burke and Herbert Bank in Alexandria, Va. She died the next year, and the trunks were not opened until 2002.
Elizabeth Brown Pryor discusses her new book, Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters. Georgia Center for the Book presents E. Pryor, former diplomat and historian (Clara Barton: Professional Angel) and her new look at Robert E. Lee. In her new book, Pryor draws from previously unpublished correspondence, which reveal more fully than ever Lee's life and beliefs before, during and after the Civil War.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hannah Reynolds will never be remembered like Jennie Wade, but this is a start

Jennie Wade, of course, is remembered and memorialized for being the only civilian casualty resulting directly from the Battle of Gettysburg. Had she been one of dozens who died in the battle, it's not likely that her name would be as well known as it is. There is something about "the only" designation that excites the imaginations of American textbook writers and tourism directors—unless the only in question a member of one of America's forgotten underclasses. In that case, a few more years may pass before notice is taken.

Case in point. . .
In 1865, Reynolds was a slave in the household of Samuel Coleman in the Virginia village of Appomattox Court House. And as Union and Confederate troops fought the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, a cannonball tore through the Coleman house (All Things Considered).

Read the full story here, and listen to the All Things Considered podcast (3 minutes, 30 seconds).

(Library of Congress)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Meanwhile, 150 years ago in a place other than Virginia. . .

Visit the Fort Blakely page at the Civil War Trust for maps, articles, and other resources on the fighting at Blakely and Spanish Fort. 

Richard McMurry, in the area of the 15th Massachusetts Battery, Fort Blakely, discussing the
April 9, 1865 Federal assault. [19th CompuServe Civil War Forum Battlefield Conference]

Saturday, March 21, 2015

150 years ago -- The Battle of Bentonville, March 19-21, 1865

Visit the Civil War Trust's Bentonville page for maps, articles, photo galleries, and interviews about  North Carolina's largest and most important battlefield.
Mark Bradley, right, author of Last Stand in the Carolinasconducted a two-day battlefield tour for The CompuServe Civil War Forum in April of 2012.